Is it possible the Hells Angels are finding a comfortable summer home in Cody?
Our community’s hospitality and proximity to Sturgis are two factors that could be contributing to that, along with, oddly, the overwhelming law enforcement presence that greets the bikers here.
How else to explain the plans by the notorious motorcycle club to come to Cody in late July for a repeat visit. This is one club – law enforcement calls them a gang of organized criminals – that doesn’t tend to be a “see you next year” kind of organization. They ran into trouble in Steamboat Springs, Colo., and Missoula, Mont., during events in the years before and after Cody and have not been back. While the Angels can be pretty good for the food and beverage industry, we don’t think the chambers of commerce in those communities have sent out delegations seeking to sign them up for a return engagement.
The crowd of bikers in Cody this summer is likely to be about one-third the size of the Angels’ last visit when about 1,200 members gathered for their World Run. That event – said to have been the largest-ever gathering of Hells Angels – was a quiet, understated, family and friends kind of reunion weekend that produced remarkably few problems.
Which is why we think they are coming back this summer.
Cody seems to offer the kind of mellow, hassle-free environment they are looking for before moving on to the Sturgis rally a day’s ride away in South Dakota where they settle in for more traditional motorcycle gang business. Call Cody the “calm before the storm,” as far as the Hells Angels are concerned.
The overwhelming law enforcement presence last time and expected this summer too also may have played into their decision to bring their roadshow back to Cody Country.
With a couple of officers seemingly within sight of everywhere there’s even one Hells Angel, there’s scant opportunity for mayhem. While the Angels don’t necessarily go out of their way to avoid trouble and certainly don’t need or like being baby-sat by law enforcement, nor do they want unnecessary trouble to land them in jail and cause them to miss out on Sturgis. That’d be akin to getting tickets for the Super Bowl, but then getting thrown in jail the night before and missing the big game. And with officers of every strip maintaining mandatory peace in the village, this also is not the place for other biker gangs to come seeking confrontation with the Hells Angels.
So, when a major assembly of Hells Angels want to relax and take a few days off from the daily pressures of being the baddest bikers on the planet – and leave the peacekeeping to someone other than their own lower-ranking members – what better place to rest up, stage and prepare for Sturgis than Cody?
Of course, there’s no real choices in this situation. Reducing law enforcement would just invite reputation-wrecking trouble for our fine town. And there’s no practical way of keeping out any group that wishes to visit. So, better to be safe than sorry.
And, it must be noted, the Hells Angels were in their own singular, insular, often glowering way, a not so unfriendly group of visitors. Many people had fun with them and few had trouble. That said, it still was not the kind of convention that encourages other traditional family visitors to stay on in town.
We’ll see how this summer’s visit goes. Maybe Cody and the Hells Angels will come to a comfortable peace. Or Cody may get kind of old and not be oh-so special that the bikers won’t want to move on next year to, say, Sheridan or Gillette.